Man stabbed in face

By Francesca Ryan

Less than a week after the PSNI launched its intensive operation in the lower Falls aimed at combating crime and anti-social behaviour, a man was stabbed in the face in Albert Street.

The victim had been visiting family in the area when he was set upon by a gang on Saturday evening.  He was stabbed in the face and also subjected to a vicious assault.

Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Jim McVeigh, visited the victim’s family on Sunday.

“This man was subjected to a vicious assault,” he said.  “He was badly beaten and stabbed.  We called to see his family on Sunday to show our support.

“This type of incident emphasises exactly why we need to get on top of this problem.  People are at the end of their tether with anti-social behaviour and they want the police to take a hard line in the area and get on top of this problem sooner rather than later.”

Despite the knife attack, the start of PSNI’s Operation Echinus, which is bringing an increased PSNI presence on to the streets of the lower Falls, has been hailed as  “positive” by the West Belfast Area Commander

In the first week of the special operation, local officers made 20 arrests and reports to the Public Prosecution Service, and carried out 24 bail checks, detecting three breaches of bail conditions.

Within the first 24 hours of the operation, the PSNI had received reports of a stolen car being driven up and down Ross Road. Police who were in the area went to the scene and dispersed a crowd of young people trying to set a vehicle alight.

In addition, since the launch  three youths have been referred to the Youth Diversionary Officer, more than 30 stop-and-searches have been carried out and seven fixed penalty notices and three discretionary disposals were also handed out.

A 33-year-old man was arrested during a planned search operation last Friday. He was later charged with possession of a class B controlled drug and possession of a class B controlled drug with intent to supply and is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court in December.

“We have listened to the concerns of the community and we are now taking steps to tackle the issues raised and I believe this is a positive start,” said West Belfast Area Commander, Chief Inspector Emma Bond.

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